A Word on Style: Good Keyword Placement

It has become increasingly obvious to savvy business owners that content and keywords are crucial to good search engine placement. But having figured that out, many of them are at somewhat of an impasse as to how to use keywords effectively on their sites. A website is supposed to help you get customers, after all, and if the content is attractive to search engines but seems a confused, grammatical mess to the average net surfer, they probably won’t be interested in your services.

You can see examples of this anywhere on search engines. You will see sentences that would make an elementary school grammar teacher wince, and you will see them on the sites of reputable businesses:

“Smith’s Plumbing in Elk Heart is the best Elk Heart Plumber in Elk Heart, Indiana. Among all the plumbers in Elk Heart, Indiana, Smith’s Plumbing is the best.  When plumbing problems happen in Elk Heart, Indiana, Smith’s Plumbing is the best Elk Heart, Indiana plumber to call in Elk Heart, Indiana.”

Google would probably gravitate toward this site if someone typed in “Plumbers Elk Heart Indiana,” but how would the potential customers feel upon reading that particular grammatical mess? Mr. Smith of Smith’s Plumbing might have a good idea as to how search engines work, but most potential customers don’t. They won’t say, “Wow, that guy really knows his way around search engine parameters.” They will most likely say “If this guy can’t put together a coherent sentence, can we trust him to install new pipes?”

Then there are the folks who have an idea of how search engines work, and they try the “keyword overdose” track. They try things like having pages with nothing but thousands of keywords, or hiding thousands of keywords from public view by camouflaging the words by making them the same color as the background. This backfires on them, because many search engines are specifically on the lookout for things like this. Search engines don’t mind it when people play by the rules, but they don’t like being grossly manipulated. In fact, if Google finds what it considers to be a “keyword farm,” it’s a safe bet that the site in question will be stricken from the index altogether.

So what do you do? What is the best way to get good search engine placement without breaking the rules or committing grammatical atrocities?

Step One: Make Good Use of the Title Bar.

The title bar is that thing at the very top of the browser window. It’s important, because after the domain name, it is one of the first criteria that search engines look for. What does yours say? Is it just the name of your business? That’s all well and good, but what about letting people (and by extension, the search engines) know where you are and what you do? If you are a CPA in Boise, why not have the title bar say “Idaho CPA, Accounting for Boise and Surrounding Areas”? That is more likely to pick up some hits on Google than “Conrad Smith Accounting,” which does nothing but tell them your name. It’s safe to say that when you type in something broad like “accounting,” there is no telling what you will get. But when users narrow the search (as folks inevitably do,) wouldn’t you want your site to have the ability to help people (and by extension the search engines) find it? Give as much pertinent information as you can in the title bar.

Step Two: Make Good Use of the Meta Description

The meta description is the little summary underneath each individual listing when you type in a topic to search. In case you didn’t know, you are responsible for that. So make it count. Feel free to put where you are, what you do, or what you are selling in the meta description. But make sure that amidst all that, you refer to the actual text on your website. Search engines don’t like inconsistency. If you try to get clever and write “Brett Favre Yardage Statistics” on your site in order to trick people into coming to your interior design website, that will most definitely backfire on you.

Step Three: Subtle Keyword Use in Content

There is a way to put necessary keywords into the midst of your website without overdoing it. And most of it is completely obvious. In the first one hundred words or so of the text on your website, mention the basics.

Welcome to the web site of Franklin and Jefferson, Tacoma, Washington’s premier installer of hardwood floors. We have provided sturdy and affordable high quality new hardwood floor installation in Tacoma, Seattle and Bellingham for over thirty five years. If you are considering replacing the floors in your home, contact Franklin and Jefferson today.

This formula is good because it tells everyone what you do and where you can work. Plus it isn’t a grammatical nightmare. Now, anyone who goes to Google and types in “New floors Tacoma” or any variation thereof should be looking at your listing on the Google index, and having concise writing on the site will keep them there.

Step Four: Updates, Updates, Updates

Building a site and then leaving it alone is one of the biggest wastes of money and potential that exists in business today. Aside from keywords in the title bar, meta description and text, Google is always on the lookout for new stuff. Having a good ranking on Google or any other search engine takes constant work.

So what do you write about? How do you update the text? For starters, you can rewrite the home page once a month. Or you can start a blog on your website that discusses things that are important to you and your customers. You can put an “inspirational quote of the day.” You can put new pictures or videos or anything that you can think of. None of these options are expensive, and they are absolutely crucial towards getting good rankings on any search engine.

Foster Web Marketing provides web hosting, content management and search engine optimization services for attorneys all over the United States.

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